By Meg O’Neil
Newport School Superintendent John H. Ambrogi informed School Committee members of his intent to retire from the school system, effective Jan. 4, 2014.
He made the announcement at the start of the Committee's first meeting of 2013 on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
The news comes three months after the School Committee members voted to end Ambrogi’s contract at the end of June 2014 in order for Ambrogi to see a clear transition of all elementary students into the new Pell Elementary School. During the meeting, he provided no reason why he would be leaving six months earlier, but simply said, “I like to have my own plans.”
With over 41 years of experience in education, Ambrogi told the committee the announcement was a long time in the making. “I never thought I’d be doing this as a career, but it became my career and I believe now, as I did when I started out: The most important thing one can do in their life is contribute to the education of young children.”
In a letter of resignation to newly-elected School Committee Chairman Charles Shoemaker, Ambrogi wrote that after four decades in three states, eight school districts, and one college, it was finally time for him to retire. He wrote: “I have been a Superintendent since 1984, and the job isn’t getting easier and I’m not getting younger.”
When he leaves the school system, Ambrogi will spend winters at his home in Florida, but will keep his home on Bellevue Ave. in Newport and return for the summer seasons.
Stifling rumors that he would use his saved time off and leave the school district in December during the holiday break, Ambrogi said that was not the case. “I will be here through Christmastime,” he said. “Newport is a place of rumors as we all know.”
Members of the school committee thanked Ambrogi for his service and his timely manner.
Newly-elected Vice Chair Jo Eva Gaines commended Ambrogi for announcing his retirement when he did. “This [announcement] gives us the opportunity to conduct a search during the primary hiring time for a superintendent this spring,” she said. “I thank you for not waiting until September, which would have put us in a bind.”
Others thanked Ambrogi for coming to the school department during a time fiscal irresponsibility. School committee member Robert Leary said that in the two years prior to Ambrogi’s hiring, the school system was “hemorrhaging red ink” and over budget by $3 million each year. “We turned it around financially, which was very important to me and other people,” Leary said.
In his letter to Shoemaker, Ambrogi wrote that when he was hired to the Newport school district in 2005, he promised the School Committee three things: “I would provide a quality education that would make a difference in each student’s life; I would find a solution to the elementary facilities problem; I would bring financial discipline to the district.”
He continued, saying all three of those tasks proved to me more difficult to complete that he had expected, but nevertheless, believed that together, with the School Committee, that they have substantially achieved those goals.
Ambrogi said he will continue to work diligently on behalf of the students until his retirement date,
“I have enjoyed my personal and professional relationships with individual School Committee members and in working here, we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said.